Aggretsuko: Work/Rage Balance Review

Have you ever wondered what happens when a death-metal screaming red panda meets ladder-climbing poker? No, me neither, but it didn’t stop Oni Games and Renegade Game Studios unleashing Aggretsuko: Work/Rage Balance on us, a card game tie-in to the hit anime series from Netflix.

The premise is simple. Much like real life, you want to get out of work as soon as possible. Each card in your hand represents some work, and the sooner you can play them all and complete your work, the sooner you can finish. When one player plays their last card, anyone else still holding cards scores points for them, and the winner is the player at the end of the 5th round (as in five work-days) with the lowest score.

Licence to kill?

Aggretsuko: Work/Rage Balance is a simple game. It’s really quick to learn and easy to teach. Poker hands are what win the game. The first player sets the scoring combination for the round – e.g. a pair – and each subsequent player has to play their own combination with the same number of cards, but of a higher value. Obviously, if you can play cards, you’re emptying your hand, and that’s a good thing.

rage tokens
These rage tokens can be flipped to the rage side to claim a card already played, back to your hand

As a Euro game fan, I’m used to games with a very loose theme, but the theme in Aggretsuko is almost non-existent. Sure, the characters from the anime are all there, and you have a Rage token which you can flip to take a card back into their hand, but that’s about it. This game could just as easily been made up of coloured suits and numbers – which is exactly what it is really. The Aggretsuko franchise is really popular right now though, and will make the game appeal to a wider audience, so why not?

All work and no play?

Gossamer-thin theme aside, Aggretsuko: Work/Rage Balance is a solid card game. It feels like a classic card game you just haven’t played yet. Once everyone has the basics down, tactics quickly emerge. Pairs and three-of-a-kinds are okay, but it’s the five-card scores you’re going for. Much like Poker you get the simultaneous excitement and nervousness of playing what you’re certain is a winning full-house, only for someone to slam down a straight.

aggretsuko suit cards
Each suit has a symbol too, great for colour-blind players, it’s a really thoughtful touch

Games go by quickly, and the game doesn’t outstay its welcome. Getting through all five rounds only takes around half an hour, which is just right. Anything longer and I could see interest starting to wain, especially among younger players. There’s a great feeling of excitement when everyone is down to two or three cards, and you’re just waiting to see who’s going to cash-out first and get their last cards played.

Final thoughts

Aggretsuko: Work/Rage Balance is a decent game, but fans of the anime may feel a little disappointed that there’s very little to tie the game back to the series. The characters are all there, sure, and there’s a rage token – but that’s it. On the flipside though, it could be just the sort of game your card-game-agnostic teenager takes a second look at, thanks to the eponymous red panda.

Retsuko card
The darling Retsuko letting loose

This game would quite happily sit in your card game collection. It has a similar feeling to play as something like 6 Nimmt!, Haggis and Tichu. There’s nothing too outstanding here, or innovative, but for your £17-20 (if pre-order prices are anything to go by), you’ll be getting a solid game. Fans of the series will no doubt lap it up, in the same way that I’d probably buy anything from the Monkey Island franchise, and they’ll be getting a good game.

Four or five players is the sweet spot, so if you’re looking for something a little different to start or end your game nights, check it out.

Review copy kindly provided by Renegade Game Studios. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

aggretsuko work rage balance box art

Aggretsuko: Work/Rage Balance (2021)

Designers: Ben Eisner, Steve Ellis
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios, Oni Games
Art: Brenda Hickey
Players: 3-6
Playing time: 30 mins

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